They hadn’t even started researching, she hadn’t shown him any of her notes, hadn’t gone into any more detail or any discussions since she had admitted everything and she was oddly content with that. There wasn’t any real hurry, but she knew they both knew it was going to be something needing to be addressed one of these days. Until that day though, she was enjoying the time she was able to have with Fred. Which seemed to be at night, which was fine an all since she worked too. And she really didn’t mind coming to the twins’ flat to spend countless hours with him.
She was frustrated though. Because talking and making out seemed to be the only thing he wanted. She didn’t know what to make of it. When they had been dating before she had to literally push him off of her, now, it was as if he didn’t want to even try. She would have been okay with that, she was to an extent. She was just happy she could touch him, talk to him, hold him and be held by him, but damnit she did have needs and it wasn’t getting any easier to keep herself satisfied.
Not when every night a lean and trimmed body pressed against her.
“You sure do come around a lot,” A suspicious voice said from the doorway, she turned with a raised brow to find George standing there with one shoulder propping his tall frame against the door jam and his arms folded. “Makes one wonder.”
“You can wonder all you want, George,” She said with a warm smile, “But you know you love it that I come so much, your flat has never been cleaner.”
The weasley twin pushed off the frame of the door and crossed into the room, his blue eyes traveling over the room’s design before he slowly relaxed down beside her on the bed. “I didn’t mean the house, Miss Granger, but here.” He raised a hand indicating the room and Hermione only smiled as she looked around.
She liked this room. It reminded her of him. It smelt of him too. It had a full size bed, always unmade but always with clean sheets of dark red, not maroon but crimson, the walls split in a brilliant blinding white that sat mirroring each other while the other mirrored walls were the same crimson. The rest of the room, with its bed, dresser, small foot locker and two arm chairs that sat beside the lone window were all black. Accents of red and white strewn about. The only thing that was not a solid mass of color was the quilt thrown over the sheets in an attempt to make the bed looked made. It was almost out of place in the room, handmade with all the black, red and white you could find in it. There wasn’t any real pattern to it, almost a kaleidoscope of colors. It was worn and soft and she assumed without asking that it had been made by Molly years ago.
She smiled to herself at that. “I like it here.”
“I like it here?” He repeated and looked to her with a small smile, “You are something Miss Granger.” George fell back onto his back on the mattress and Hermione looked over her shoulder at him.
“How so, George? Am I not allowed to like it here?” There was supposed to be playfulness in the tone, but after she thought about it, she was sure it sounded more defensive than anything, which was probably why George hastily commented, “That’s not like it at all, I just think its strange, is all, that after all these years you are still so – wrapped –“ He smirked at her blush to his innuendo, “Around my dear brother.”
“I am not wrapped around anyone, George.” She said with her nose mockingly in the air, but then just as quickly her little attempt at being the prude most people believed failed and she sagged back and fell with a plop beside him, her curly hair fanning out and getting in his face. “He won’t go that far.”
George laughed a little as he swatted her hair from him, before turning his familiar face towards her and grinned, “Frustration suits you.” He chuckled when she glared, “Well what do you expect? Its been six years, the man probably thinks he has something to prove, something to make up for.” George shrugged, “Or maybe he’s just scared to take that step just yet.”
“I’ve been waiting six bloody years, George.” Hermione grumbled.
“So you don’t think you’ll wait any longer?” He asked with a fake curiosity that annoyed her. “Come on, Hermione, it’ll happen when it happens.”
She frowned and looked up to the ceiling, her brown eyes narrowing at the same spot for a full two minutes before she let out a long and deep sigh. “I feel so stupid, George. I don’t even know why Im telling you all this either. But the truth is, Fred and I have never…well that is to say I haven’t ever…and I just thought that he would just…” She trailed off before looking over to him shyly only to find wide shocked eyes staring at her. “What?”
“You’re a virgin?” He asked incredulously.
“Yes.” She drew out slowly, confused at his reaction.
“Dear merlin.” Came his whispered response before he frowned, “Does Fred know?”
Hermione raised a brow, “Yes, why wouldn’t he?”
“Well there’s your problem, love,” He chuckled. “Imagine – waking up to find a twenty-four year old Hermione Granger still pluck for the picking, the very same woman who brought you back. The very same who you had been dating before you took decided to kip it for so long. It’s a lot of pressure for anyone let alone Fred.”
“Why would it be so hard for Fred?” She asked with confusion. It didn’t really make any sense to her why that would bother him. Should he be happy? Thrilled? She had waiting for blood sakes, that should mean something to the man.
“Hermione,” George sighed and ran a hand over his face, “Fred isnt what you would call experienced in the topic at hand.”
It was clear to her that George was feeling a bit uncomfortable at the strangeness of their conversation. It was not like they two weren’t known to hold such intimate conversations over the years, but with the recent development that they could speak about Fred outloud again, and not just sit in silence whenever the need to say something about him came to be, it just made things a bit more exhausting. George was a great listener, he was smart, handsome and funny, but he lacked patience. And Hermione knew – without a doubt really – that anyone dealing with her needed patience. She was knit picky, she asked too many questions, thought too much and always wanted to know what everything meant. Some would call it bookworm syndrome, but to her and her friends, it was simply the fact that she had too much going on in her head. Too many memories.
After all, one didn’t get to be so paranoid about things without reason.
And if anyone had a reason to be paranoid it was Hermione Granger. Muggleborn witch. Best friend to Harry Potter, defeater of the darkest wizard of their age. She was the damn poster child for muggleborn witches and wizards and the still very much at large pureblood extremists hated her and the ground she walked on. If she wasn’t secure in her faith in Kingsley, she wouldn’t even be employed, but she needed to money for her research and Kingsley knew that she needed both that and a reason to keep her mind busy.
Hermione frowned, “He told me he had been with Angelina.”
“Yeah seven, eight years ago,” George grimaced, “He hasn’t exactly been playing the field lately.”
“That sounds vulgar,” She chastised and then sighed, “But I suppose you’re right.”
“Of course I am.” He said so seriously she looked to him and furrowed her brows, before she noticed the slight twitch in his lips and she broke out into a small smile.
“You’re impossible. You know that, right?”
“Proud of it.”
“Confident , love, not egotistical.”
He looked to her quickly, the change of their normal banter sending him for a loop, “Huh?”
“Just thank you,” She said as her brown eyes caught his, “For being here for me.”
“You know, for the brightest witch of your age, you can be really thick.” He grunted and sat up. His slender hand running through his hair as he looked down at her. “You act like I’ve helped you all these years, Hermione, when we both know that you coming around here was not because you needed the help.”
Hermione sat up with him and shook her head, “Not every time, but you would be surprised on how many times me coming here was strictly selfish, George, have you seen you?” She closed her eyes and dipped her head guiltily, “I know this sounds crude, but sometimes, sometimes I just had so see his face. Awake, blue shining from behind the lids. And I know that you hated that, that’s why you hid away for so long because people looked at you and saw him, but I just had to, George.” Her voice had softened into a whisper. “I knew you weren’t him, obviously, for those of use able to get close to the two of you, the differences between the both of you are quite easily noted, but your eyes, and if I stared long enough and the edges all blurred together it was as if it had been him sitting in silence with me. Or talking with me.” She sighed and picked absently at the worn quilt beneath her. “I’ve been greedy with you, but I have come to love you too, George, and not because of those times when I needed to see a familiar face, but for all the times when I came here and you just knew what I needed.”
George reached over and laced a long arm around her shoulders to pull her into the curve of his side, he kissed the crown of her head and squeezed her tightly in a half hug, “I knew you did that, you know?” He grinned when she looked up with slightly wide eyes, “You’d get this funny look on your face, wistful, a small smile would pull up the right corner of your mouth and your eyes would change into a dark chocolate. It’s a look I’ve only seen you give one other person and I knew for a fact that you weren’t giving it to me. Not even in those moments.” He grinned at her, “Thank goodness for that, could you imagine the awkwardness that conversation would be now that Fred’s back?”
Hermione chuckled and shook her head, “Don’t think I didn’t entertain the idea, Mr. Weasley, you are quite the catch, but – well – “She trailed off with a shrug before looking about the room again. “Anyway, I came here to see him this morning and he wasn’t here, which I suppose was good, we haven’t had the time to just sit and talk since he came back. Damn him keeping my Georgie from me.” She play pouted.
“Never.” He said fiercely. “I shalln’t let that happen.”
“Good.” Hermione smiled to him and him to her, before she decided, quite suddenly, that this man deserved to know. He deserved to know about Sirius and Fred and the whole ordeal. He needed to know that she had done it for him and that she was still trying to do it for Harry. The realization came to her so suddenly that she blanked out for a moment, her chest heaving, her breath increasing, her hands shaking. She promised herself she wouldn’t ever tell George, that he would never know. But here he sat, friend to her like no other could possibly be, a different sort than Harry and Ron. More personal by far concerning the amount of time she had spent with the redhead throughout the last couple of years, and it hit her. She would be betraying him if she didn’t.
And she couldn’t betray him. Not after all this. Not after everything.
“I have to tell you something and you mustn’t speak until I’m done.” She said quickly, standing and shrugging his arm from around her shoulders to start pacing the small room. Fred’s room. For Fred, she would tell George, because she knew that him keeping a secret like this from George was hard on Fred.
“Um, sure?” He frowned and situated himself back some on the bed, “Go ahead.”
“Okay, but,” Hermione ran her hands through her hair and gulped, “Its going to sound strange, but I need you to know that I didn’t do any of this for me, well that’s not entirely true, but I didn’t do any of it for me alone.”
“Hermione,” He said, ending her little rant, “Just tell me, love, why so serious all of a sudden?”
She couldn’t help but hear the same taunt she had heard the twins ask Sirius enough times for the Marauder to threaten to hex them. It was strange how he would say something like that when she was about to confess something like this. Steeling her shoulders she stopped pacing and look right into the eyes of her friend. “I brought Fred back.”
George blinked at her and then his brows furrowed, “Yes…”
“I used a variation of Lux in Obscurum.” She whispered and watched as his eyes bulged and his face paled, “I know – I know, but I had to, George, I had to. I couldn’t find the cure and I just knew, I knew it was out there so I had to use it.”
“I know. I can’t change what I did, but I did it, and I won’t regret it – please don’t make me regret it.” She closed her eyes to the tears that came and swallowed the lump in her throat before pressing forward, “You understand what all that means, Fred does too.”
“That’s incredibly stupid of you to do.” George deadpanned. “How dare you.”
“You are a hypocrite.” He accused, blue eyes narrowed at her, well she didn’t expect anger from him that was for sure. She didn’t know what she expected, but she figured it was something other than anger.
“I beg your pardon?”
“You tell everyone to be patient, to not think drastically, to just let time heal everything and here you are telling me that you used that?” He spat, “Merlin Hermione you could have died.”
“But I didn’t.” She reasoned.
“Thank bloody hell for that!” He stood up so fast and was in front of her before she could blink. “You are stupid, Hermione Granger, to think that I would be okay with the knowledge that you dived into such things. That type of – magic, if you even call it that – is dangerous. You could have lost your magic, you could have…you could have left me to.”
“No, Hermione, I’m…” He looked around the room and shook his head, “What did you give up?”
“George…” She shook her head and looked away from him.
“Tell me, Hermione.”
“I can’t tell you…it’s…”
Hermione looked up to the enraged twin and sighed, she didn’t want to tell him, she didn’t want to admit it to anyone. She just wasn’t ready, she hadn’t even told Fred. “My parents.” She spoke softly, almost inaudibly.
Strong arms found her then, wrapping around her small frame and pulling her roughly into a lean chest just as the first body tensing sob escaped her. It was all too much to talk about and she hated how easily George had always been able to get her from joking to serious so quickly. He really was an intelligent man, he knew how to talk to people. To get them talking. Another sob escaped her and she clung to his shirt, her face pressed into his chest. “Hermione,” He sighed, “Why would you do that?”
“Why?” She hiccupped and blinked back the tears before looking upward to catch his gaze. “Why?” She pushed back and sent a withered glare, not heated enough to be angry, “For Fred, for your mum and dad, for Ron – for you – for me.” She ground out, “I did it for a lot of reasons, George, but I didn’t it because it was needed to be done. My parents were already gone, I couldn’t even find them, I didn’t know if they were alive or dead and I wasn’t about to give up the one thing in this world that would make it better. Fred killed you, George, and he killed the spark of your family with his condition. I saw it! And I died a little every single day I had to walk into that room and see him just lying there…don’t you dare ask me why I did it…it’s a bit obvious, don’t you think?”
“But your parents?” He frowned, “Hermione, they aren’t dead, you know that – oh merlin – that’s why their memory can’t be restored…you…”
“I had to!” She cried loudly, tears streaming down her cheeks, “I had to, George, I had to.”
“There’s more.” Hermione got out between sniffles.
“I’m afraid to ask.”
“I know how to get Sirius back.”
George looked to her like she was mad then. A reaction she was sure she expected. Yes, this she expected. Who wouldn’t look at her like that? Sirius wasn’t in some hospital bed, he wasn’t in some ward at St. Mungos, Sirius was gone. Dead for all intent and purposes for those who hadn’t spend all their spare free time (as limited as it is when one has it split between work projects and bringing back a comatose spell damaged patient) researching the doorway. She figured that he would probably think she was mental after all this. Perhaps she was. “Hermione, Sirius is dead.”
“No.” She shook her head and wiped the wetness of her cheeks, her tears having stopped as she continued to speak about something other than her rash decision to trade her parent’s memories for Fred’s cure. “I’ve researched if, the veil isn’t a doorway to death but hyper sleep. The mans in there, George, just waiting for someone to know how to bring him back. I’ve almost gotten it a thousand times, but I couldn’t focus all my energy in finding the codes while I was finding the cure for Fred.” She pulled her lower lip in and bit before turning her gaze from him to the rest of the room, wishing she didn’t need to say this part because it sounded horrible. She knew it did. “I needed Fred for more than just – to have him back with us, George.”
“What are you saying?” He asked quietly.
“I need his mind too.”
“You need his mind?” George said nastily. “You brought him back to use him? That is low.”
“I brought him back because I love him, George Weasley, and don’t you dare ever forget that!” She said quickly, angry for the first time during their long drawn out conversation. “You better not be even thinking that I only brought him back to get Sirius back, don’t you dare! Merlin…I didn’t even stumble upon the book about the veil until two years after the war. Two years after I started working on bringing Fred back. So you do the fucking math, George, and don’t you dare ever…ever…look at me like that again or think that vile thought. I am not a monster, I love your brother…I love him, George and I needed him back just as much as you – as much as anyone!” She glared at him, hurt and confused and quite frankly guilty to be springing this all on him, but the more she let it out, the better she felt. She waited to see if George would say anything, but he just stood there, an indifferent mask upon his face so she pressed onward, “Like I said, I need his mind. I…I realized only a year into researching and coming no closer in Sirius back, that I needed help. And the only person I could think about being as close to able in figuring out riddles was Fred. These codes are riddles, hundreds of riddles all compiled together in a string of instructions that I just can’t seem to crack, but I know – I know that the both of us, Fred and I, can. And we could bring Sirius back.”
“You’ve taken on the impossible.” George said to her. “It can’t be done, you think people haven’t tried?”
“And if I believed that kind of thinking, would Fred by downstairs running the shop as we speak?”
He blinked at her, for a long hard moment he stared at her, before his shoulders slumped and his entire body swayed backwards and sat on the bed. He pushed both hands through his hair and then rested his elbows on his knees, face upturned to catch her gaze. “I know you love him,” He told her, “I’m sorry if I made you feel like you had to prove that, this…this all is a bit much…I mean I only came in here to tease you about being in my brothers bed for the last week,” He chuckled, “I didn’t expect the sex talk to end up being so much, you need to realize I still am a bloke. It takes a while for my brain to keep up with yours.”
She smiled softly and shifted on her feet, “I know it sounds selfish, George, but its not.”
“Fred maybe a little. I wanted him, I knew from the moment the healers said there was nothing they could do that I wouldn’t rest until he was smiling again. But Sirius?” She laughed quietly, “You know as well as I do that Sirius Black and myself butted heads more than we got along, but he’s Harry’s godfather. The only family that Harry has. And if he’s just sitting somewhere,“ Her eyes glazed over as she looked to a spot over his shoulder, picturing the dark haired animagus sitting down in a corner, velvet suit and all, “I have to bring him back to him. I don’t know how long it’ll take, it took my six years to get Fred, but I have to try. And I have to do so quietly.” She looked to him again. “Because if I can’t, if I fail…”
George nodded. “I cant believe you’ve had all this on your shoulders all these years, Hermione.”
Hermione shrugged, “I have had a lot more on my shoulders before. All things considered, this isn’t nearly as heavy as what we all had to bare throughout school.”
The redhead chuckled, “Touché, Miss Granger, touché.”
“You can’t tell anyone, George.”
“Not a soul, not your mum or dad.” She eyed him carefully, “Or Bill.”
“Okay okay I got it.”
“Hermione.” He said, grinning widely, “I solemnly swear to secrecy and will only speak to you and Freddie about this.”
“Your word, George.”
He looked to her for a moment as if insulted, but sighed and nodded, “You have my word, Hermione, I swear it.” She smiled to him again as the soft band of white encircled them before fading into the air again. She hadn’t made anyone do a wizards oath in years. She knew it probably wasn’t necessary, but the fact was, she just couldn’t take the chance.
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